Retired and Writing

   (Note: Due to a personal commitment, this week’s blog entry is appearing two days early. Assuming normal inspiration, the next entry will appear at the usual time, i.e., on Friday, 5/2.)

As of today, 23 April 2014, I became officially unemployed. As in retired. Although a well anticipated event, its arrival is going to take some time for mental adjustment. It’s just a bit weird not to be getting up for work, and having no more professional responsibilities after 42 years in medicine since graduating from medical school.

Those who know me well know that I’ve got no shortage of interests and activities to keep me occupied, major among them being writing. With a number of published articles, two books in print, and an essay due to appear in an upcoming issue of a literary journal for medical professionals, I’ve managed to build a body of work that’s taught me much about how to construct pieces for publication.

Writing has been something I’ve loved doing at least as far back as the 7th grade. It began almost as a byproduct of my lusting over a fountain pen. Oh, and not just any fountain pen. No, sir. It was a $1.00, clear barreled Sheaffer fountain pen sold by the student store at Northridge Junior High School. Over a period of years, until I could afford better, I owned several of them as well as similar ones by Wearever. They all leaked, staining my fingers and shirts, but I didn’t care. I was in love with real, flowing ink. I still am, and I treasure the wonderful non-leaking pens I’ve since acquired.

But, I digress.

As soon as I got that first Sheaffer, so did my best buddy, Sam (not his real name), and we started writing little essays of a sort, calling each one an installment of a series called “My Innermost Thoughts”. Sam and I each did this during class time and, somehow, never got caught. I wish I still had those little essays, but the nearest I have to my creative writing from that time is a short paragraph in which I said I thought I’d be a doctor when I grew up. This, actually, was terribly odd, if prescient, since I cannot ever remember wanting to be a doctor until late in my freshman year of college. Until then, I had planned on being an engineer or a physicist, like a first cousin once removed who was with the Applied Physics Laboratories at Johns Hopkins University and was involved in sending up some of our earliest communication satellites.

It was in college that my writing took off. I vomited a great deal of terrible poetry, tried without any recognized success to generate funny stuff for the school’s humor magazine, and (did I mention?), upchucked a lot of really bad, self-indulgent poetry. Every word, incidentally, was written with a fountain pen before getting typed on a blue Royal Futura manual typewriter that skittered across the desk every time I hit the carriage return . By then, though, I had graduated to $5 Parkers that I could fill from a bottle. They leaked a lot less than the Sheaffers.

Writing went largely on hold through medical school, internship, and residency, but once in the private practice of obstetrics and gynecology, I found myself spending long hours in the hospital attending labors and deliveries. Partly to kill time, I began to write again. The first draft of my story, “Spacebraid”, was written mostly in the on call rooms at two hospitals where I spent seemingly endless hours waiting out the often long process of labor. Ultimately, and through several re-writes, “Spacebraid” became the lead story in my first published book, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe. It was at that time that the story was almost optioned for film or TV production by a major studio. Unfortunately for me, the studio ultimately decided to take a pass.

I’ve been writing ever since, albeit sometimes in spurts separated by longer periods of inactivity. Zendoscopy was a project that took several years to complete. It’s obviously a much more personal effort than Spacebraid…, with many of its episodes being outlandish riffs on kernels of truth.

Here’s what’s coming on my writing calendar:

  • Saturday, May 3: Book signing for Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe and Zendoscopy at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach from 3-5 PM. The store is located at 2810 Artesia Boulevard, about two blocks west of Hawthorne Blvd.
  • Wednesday, June 18: Author appearance at Wanda’s Readers, a book club in Redlands that has chosen Zendoscopy as its June read.
  • Summer 2014: Publication of my essay, “An Obstetric Story”, in The Pharos, the literary journal of Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honors society.

With some luck, more signings will be scheduled over the next few months. And, of course, the writing continues. Stay tuned.

Today’s Annoyance: Hey! I just retired! Nothing bothers me this week.

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